Boris Becker Q&A: Novak Djokovic knows he made a mistake so it’s time to move on

US Open
Novak Djokovic checks on line judge after US Open incident

It is the story that has dominated the sporting agenda and now tennis legend Boris Becker has given his considered verdict on Novak Djokovic’s sensational default at the US Open.

Tennis365 joined a Eurosport event that looked back on the events around the world No 1’s fall from grace in New York, with his former coach Becker offering up an honest assessment of what happens next for Djokovic as he looks to bounce back at the French Open later this month.

First of all Boris, give us your initial reflections on what happened with Novak on Monday night?

BB: “Well, it was a very unfortunate situation. It was unintentional I want to say first, but he did break the rule and his default is correct, they were both close but those are the rules and he’s going to be sorry and maybe even embarrassed. Now hopefully he will continue in a couple of day and the season has just started in a way, and there is the French Open in three weeks. So he’s supposed to play Rome next week so let’s see.”

Do you feel they made the right decision to default him from the US Open?

BB: “You know I am a friend of his, we are close, but you’ve got to stay neutral here in my job. He lost his cool, he lost his temper and he hit the lineswoman unintentionally but it did hit her and the decision was correct. The rules are clear, intentionally or unintentionally, you cannot hit any official while you’re playing a match, this is very clear, and so I think the rules are firm. I love the guy and I support him, but there are clear rules.”

So we can’t say this was just a case of bad luck to hit the linesperson?

BB: “Clearly it was unfortunate and yet, in a way, he got lucky because this woman could have been seriously hurt, he hit too hard and if it went into the eye God knows. He was frustrated, the emotion was getting the better of him, but that’s it, we shouldn’t now think he’s a bad man, it was done unintentionally but both of know you are emotional on the court, we did break records before, we did swear, it’s just human nature that when things are not going well you misbehave.

Boris Becker Eurosport

Do you feel the rule is too harsh for what was essentially an accident?

BB: “It’s a clear rule, players are role models, a lot of young men and women watch them and they get a lot of support and it’s an unfortunate end, but it was a correct decision.”

Has this incident tarnished Novak’s reputation for the long-term?

BB: “I don’t think so. I judge him on the tennis court. He gets criticised for a lot of things for some reason but this is not for me to answer, maybe for you to answer, why journalists have always been critical about him. The media seem to love Rafael [Nadal} and Roger [Federer] more than Novak, but it’s your decision. So he made a mistake and people will talk about it for a while. He is not perfect, nobody is perfect, he paid the highest price, he was correctly defaulted, no doubt about that, but life goes on, he didn’t kill anybody, he pays a hefty financial penalty for it and he moves on, he’s going to grow up, he’s going to mature and he’s going to learn from his mistake.”

Will Djokovic’s disqualification affect him in the next French Open?

BB: “I hope not, but nobody knows. This was definitely a big lesson in front of the whole world, he was criticised all over the world today and that’s right, but he has to take it on the chin, he is a man, he takes responsibility for his actions. He is supposed to play Rome next week and he’s supposed to play the French Open in three weeks, so hopefully he does and he bounces back quickly.”

Part two of the Q&A with Boris Becker in association with Eurosport will be on Tennis365 on Wednesday.

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